Record Breaking Leadership Lesson

Records are made to be broken… at least that’s what they say. It’s fun to watch the progression of records in professional sports. From the grainy black and white footage of the early years to the Hall of Fame legends throughout the late 20th century, a record gets passed from one person to the next, with each one seeming insurmountable. Yet almost always, someone comes along and sets the bar at a new height.

In last night’s Sunday Night Football game, Peyton Manning surmounted Brett Favre’s record for most touchdown passes thrown in a career. He did it in 56 fewer games and with 1514 fewer passes than Favre (h/t @adamschefter). 509 touchdowns… 111 since he bravely stepped back on the field after the neck injury that most thought would end his career.

Peyton Manning is a living legend on the football field. He’s a legendary leader on and off the field. In the post-game interview on NBC, as he was showered with praises, Peyton routinely referred to two groups of people: the former record holders and his teammates.

The special nature of the moment is not lost on Peyton, it’s just that he understands all of the little things that made the moment possible, so he chooses to focus on those things as opposed to a singular pass that put him in the record books.


The lessons here are obvious to see, but not easy to implement.

  1. Work hard. Do a series of small things consistently well, and you’ll find success. Peyton Manning has a legendary work ethic. Although he has the genes and the pedigree, and the natural talent to be an elite NFL quarterback, he would not be where he is today without the thousands of hours he has dedicated to practice, film study, and throwing repetitions. What are you intentionally trying to get better at? It takes work.
  2. Learn from the people who came before you. Who are you looking up to, and learning from? Peyton had Y.A. Tittle, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, and Brett Favre. In any arena of life, there are individuals who came before you… giants whose shoulders you can stand on. Learn from them, give them credit, and stay humble, because someone will always be better than you.
  3. Who makes you look good? Peyton Manning constantly refers to his teammates when asked a question about him. He understands that football is the ultimate team sport, and that it takes all 53 players doing their jobs in order to succeed. Although the record will revolve around Peyton’s name, he knows he owes his success to the players and coaches who put him in a position to succeed at such a high level.

Whatever your area of focus may be, I hope you take some of the insights from Peyton’s career and turn them into action. Be a leader worth following… work hard, learn from those who first succeeded, and be thankful for the individuals who make your success possible.


On May 8, 2015, Peyton Manning will be speaking at Leadercast Live about boldness in the midst of uncertainty. Don’t want to miss this opportunity?


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Luke is the Assistant Director of Leadercast, follow him on Twitter for a behind the scenes look into Leadercast, and his love for all Cincinnati sports.

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